FAIRBORN — Each year since 2005, United Rehabilitation Services (URS), a Dayton-based organization that provides daytime and after-school care for children and adults with disabilities, has awarded the Berry Volunteer of the Year Service Award, sponsored by Charles D. Berry, to a volunteer within the agency.
In 2019, the award was given to then second-year Boonshoft School of Medicine student Kelly Haller. Haller logged more than 95 hours in the LatchKey classroom for school-aged children with the URS youth services program.
“This award is for a volunteer who has gone above and beyond with their service to URS,” shared Dennis G. Grant, URS executive director during the award ceremony. “The children love having her in the classroom and she has developed great relationships with them.”
“The majority of the children I worked with were on the autism spectrum. Many of these children were nonverbal,” Haller said. “The most satisfying aspect was knowing the children were excited to see me when I came into their classroom. It meant a lot when I would see them smile when they saw me, or when I interacted with them.”
This experience helped Haller confirm her appreciation for working with children with autism and other medical complexities.
“I believe I can connect well with these children, and I hope to help advocate for such children throughout my personal and professional life,” she said.
Now a third-year medical student, Haller, from Strongsville, is interested in pediatrics, especially developmental and behavioral pediatrics, which would allow her to provide care for children with needs similar to those she worked with at URS.
Haller began volunteering at URS in August 2018, a month after starting her medical education at BSOM, and did so regularly until this past winter. With the COVID-19 pandemic, URS shut down temporarily, and limited the roles of volunteers.
“I do hope volunteers are allowed to return sometime before I graduate, as I have formed such wonderful relationships with the children, staff and families, and have truly missed them all,” Haller said.